I’m thinking we could all do with feeling a little better today, so I want you to try something with me real quick that’ll shift things for you.
One of the things I love to do with clients is explore their Peak Experiences – memories of events that spark their soul. It’s foundational to creating the life you want and is super fun to do, so let’s do it. Right here, right now. It doesn’t take too long.
For me, when I think of Peak Experiences in my life, it’s often special moments in the mountains when the light is just right, mountains towering above (or below!), perfect silence pervading, and feeling strong and centered and surrounded by beauty, like everything is perfect and I know it…
It can also be the crazy moments being taken up in the ocean’s swell on a surfboard only to have a pod of dolphins swim by and around and under as the sun rose and hit the waves just right so the dolphins surfing in the waves were backlit by a universal glow, feeling so small and slightly frightened about the vastness that lay below me in the ocean’s depths, yet somehow knowing it was all good…
Or lying by my dad’s side during his last days on this earth, my arms around him as he called me an angel and me being able to tell him how much I love him and to hear him tell me the same as he hovered in that sacred space between here and beyond the notions of “here and there,” somehow knowing that all was right.
Some of my Freedom School students have shared things like the flow they feel when painting or writing; how awesome they feel when giving a presentation on a topic they’re passionate about, as if they are just downloading from another source; an epic night of passion. You get the idea.
It seems the common themes in these experiences aren’t a pretty sunset or big adventure, but rather an innate knowing that all was exactly as it should be.
Perfect, in its own way.
Fully alive and present.
In the flow.
Peak experiences help us learn a lot about who we are, our values, how we honor those values.
When was your most recent peak experience? What were you doing? Where were you? Who were you with?
(Tip: if you can’t think of one, what would be a peak experience be for you?)
What does that experience tell you about what fulfills you?
Notice that this experience was a peak experience for you because it honored your deepest values. You were in alignment.
What were some that showed up? Nature? Connection? Passion? Adventure? Freedom?
Now, take that wisdom and see how you can manifest honoring these values more often in your daily life, so that you can feel that alignment.
And I do mean NOW.
Too many people wait until the Big Event happens – the new job, the new degree, the kids leaving for college, finally getting pregnant or having a partner, to fit into their old jeans, or make X amount of $$$ – before they start feeling joy and that their outside life is in alignment with their internal values.
But the catch is that to manifest all those things you want, you need to start feeling that way NOW. Because our thoughts create our feelings, and our FEELINGS drive our actions.
And guess what creates our reality?
Damn right. Our feelings.
Think about that – I know it makes sense intellectually but I want you to really grock this in your bones. Your feelings drive your actions which create your reality.
THIS is why it is so important to feel the way you think you’ll feel when you finally have that thing you’ve always wanted.
It’s the only way you’ll create that thing you’ve always wanted.
So if you want to do what it takes to create your ideal life, don’t wait to feel amazing.
Give yourself permission to feel that way RIGHT NOW.
In fact, it is ESSENTIAL to creating the life you were meant to live.
So take a moment now and think: is there something that reminds you of that peak experience?
Use it to help remember what is important to you….perhaps a rock from that mountain top, a photo in a cool frame, a seashell from the beach, a poem from your loved one. Place it somewhere you’ll see it – often.
Take a small part of each day to connect with your “special place.” Maybe go for a walk after dinner under the full moon, meditate in the morning on your gratitudes for 3-5 minutes, roll in the grass (or snow!) with your dog, make a plan to have a small adventures each week (go to a new restaurant, hike a new trail, go to a new class at the gym).
Whatever you do, try to find a way to stay connected to that peak experience.
Create the space in your life for it to enter more often, in unexpected ways.
Maybe you’ve heard of self-compassion. If you’re like me, you may have wondered – out loud:
“Does self-compassion make you a wuss?”
I used to think so.
The first time a friend told me about taking a self-compassion workshop I thought, “Yeah that makes sense that she would need that…but I don’t.”
See, I’m from an immigrant family, and I was raised with the belief that you work hard and buck up and don’t complain and stay tough and THAT is how you rise up. That is how you stay safe and provide for yourself, and your family.
Confidence? Good. Resilience? Good. Courage? You bet your ass.
Self-compassion? I didn’t know much about it, so to me it seemed like something that only fragile privileged people had the time – or need – to do.
I knew that self-compassion was needed before you could give compassion in a genuine way. I had been doing Tong-Len and metta meditation practices long enough to know that. But studying it and practicing it and all these … techniques? That seemed like…overkill.
But I was a wrong.
I’ll spare you the details, but I was convinced to do the training myself in large part because it was being offered at one of my fave places on the planet – the iconic Esalen Institute on the Big Sur coast.
Think: clothing-optional hot springs on sea cliffs; getting massages with a view of the blue water as you feel the ocean spray from waves crashing below; organic food grown on the local farm; kombucha on tap…
I know. Some of you are like hellz no – I started running when you said clothing optional. But hey, I went to UC Santa Cruz for undergrad – which was a clothing optional University. That’s another story…
So anyway, it blew my mind. And I learned that you CAN self soothe and it WORKS. I used to think my brain would know it was me and not someone else and that it would say haha! You didn’t fool me! I know that’s YOU hugging yourself and not someone that actually cares about you!
But as it turns out, our brains just…want us to be nice to ourselves.
It likes it. We like it, even though it might feel über awkward at first.
And when we are self-compassionate instead of self-critical – when we turn off the inner mean girl and turn on our very adult ability to take care of ourselves – we calm the f*ck down. And we are ready for…life.
Ready to heal.
Ready to take some risks.
Because we know we’ll be ok.
And the research shows that people that do regular self-compassion practices have better resilience too. In fact, they are starting to teach it in the military to help prevent PTSD!
So no…it won’t make you a wuss.
It’ll help you warrior up for this wild new world we live in.
And just in case you’re wondering if it’s all about whispering nice things to yourself and giving yourself hugs, there’s also a FIERCE side to self-compassion.
There’s a yin and yang to everything, and self-compassion is no exception. The yin side if the soft, holing, receiving side. The yang side is the ability to protect yourself like a fierce mama bear – creating and sticking to healthy boundaries, saying, “No,” and having your own back.
You need both.
Try these things the next time your inner critic won’t shut up:
1) Say kind things to yourself. Stuck on that? What would you say to a friend in the same predicament? Say that to yourself.
2) Ask yourself, “What do you need right now?” (that you can give yourself). And do that – the nap. The walk. The bath. The ugly cry. The friend you can call who will listen.
3) I never thought I’d say this when I was riding my BMW enduro through the Oregon foothills or with my legs going numb after hours in a hanging belay on the walls of El Cap, but…try to give yourself a damn hug. There, I said it. Don’t shoot me. You can also try a warm hand over your heart or your belly. It can seriously work.
Or it might not. There are dozens of self-compassion practices just like there are dozens of types of birth control pills – not all sit well with everyone. So you just have to try it.
And hey, don’t let people walk all over you. Don’t tolerate BS. Don’t say, “Yes!” just because you’re afraid to disappoint. Practice that fierce self-compassion as well.
This month in Freedom School we’re diving into this for the entire month, so hop on over and join us. If you’re super resistant to the idea of self-compassion, you might be just like me and know, somewhere deep down, that this is the thing that will crack you open.
They are energy vampires. Happiness slayers. Joy slammers.
The thing is – we wake up every day with the potential to start over!
That cliché about “today is a new day” is totally true…even though you may want to roll your eyes if someone said it to you in the moment.
When we feel regret about something – your last relationship, your birth experience, your mistake on the job, how you handled your last argument with your partner or friend – we they have a spider sense for a moment in the future that might feel similar to that event that brings up regret.
Then, when we feel that moment of resonance with the past – that moment when we’re like, “Hmmm….I really hope I don’t fuck this up again” – we can use it as an opportunity to create a new response.
We are allowed to have a ‘do-over.'”
For example, I think about how lately I’ve been leaning more into my morning ritual, and making sure I prioritize it so that I start the day off fresh and inspired and grounded. This helps me feel at ease with all the mornings that I wasted away with lazily sleeping in (which, BTW, is perfectly fine if it doesn’t bother you or throw off your day!), gluten or wine hangovers, or ruminating about all my worries.
I’m making up for those big time, because my NEW mornings are infused with freakin’ magic, peeps. My mornings, even before a day filled with ho-hum errands, are started with much-needed spiritual refining and tuning-in.
There’s more about mornings in particular that help with do-overs.
Mornings are energetically in alignment with all beginnings – so we can harness that and create a new experience and oust the regrets – every morning!
Ayurveda places a big emphasis on moments and transitions throughout the day. Each moment, each day, is so full of potential for changing how we experience life.
I’ve been working with many of my clients in developing these morning rituals as well, and they are reporting massive results – more energy, more creativity, more groundedness, more juicy living.
In Freedom School this month, we even did an entire class on how to create your daily rituals – because each new day gives a chance for a new beginning, and each closing of the day opens up a new cleansing of what came before.
Think of how you start your days.
Do you wake up at the last minute so you are rushing out of the house and spilling your tea or coffee everywhere?
Do you lie in bed for minutes or hours putting off shit you need to get done?
Do you feel foggy and sluggish because of eating unhealthfully or living a less-than-healthy lifestyle?
You can indeed do it differently in the morning. And really, when you honor and reshape your mornings to a ritual that serves you best, you can honor and reshape previous experiences too.
There’s more: every MOMENT – not just morning – is also fertile with opportunity to create something new.
What about the rest of your day?
Do you spend your free time perusing other people’s successes and feeling bad about where you are at?
Do you go to bed checking your email and thinking about all the shizzle you have to get done tomorrow?
Do you say “I’m sorry” just for speaking or taking up space or asking for advice or help?
These are all energy suckers!
You can instead examine why you are apologizing.
You can examine why you are obsessed about everything you have to do tomorrow (what’s the story you tell yourself about what happens, or who it means you are, if you don’t get everything done?).
You can examine why you are jealous about someone else’s success and are focusing on that instead of creating your own.
Often the motivator is some kind of regret, and we just need to stop that living-in-the-past shizzle if we are going to move forward with a life of freedom!
Create a NEW way of approaching things when those feeling come up.
But I know that there are times when we just…drop the ball.
What about when you really fucked up?
In Tibetan Buddhism there’s a four-step formula for making amends with a regret (also applicable to apologizing). This doesn’t have to do with anybody else, though. It can be ANY regret – even letting yourself down.
Having a proper process for making amends can help you start over. I’ve found it helpful to remember, because it keeps my apologies legit.
Here are the 4 Steps to Making Amends
• Recognize that either there was an experience you regret having had, or that perhaps you did something wrong – or let’s take the judgment out of it and change “wrong” to “something you weren’t so proud of”
• Sit with the feeling of remorse and regret so that you don’t half-ass it and have it lingering sneakily behind you for months or years. Feel it fully, knowing you can release it. Don’t create a story behind it. Just feel it.
• Move into a place of compassion for yourself (and the person you’ve harmed if it’s applicable). Notice the whole “compassion for yourself” part! Don’t skip over that! In fact, start with it.
• Then set the intention that you won’t do it again and take a positive action. So if you stole something, you could give something away when you saw someone in need. If you hurt someone with aggressive language, you can more openly and quickly forgive someone for the same infraction and send them loving kindness. And really, set the intention to not do it again and mean it. Apologies don’t mean shit when someone keeps making the same mistake over and over and just says they are sorry without meaning it.
If you regret something and it is taking over your mind, choose RIGHT NOW to do something to offset it.
And when you find a moment that resonates particularly powerfully with a regret, make a strong intention that how you handle it will help you release the old regret.
Once you’ve decided to let go, and you’ve taking positive action, then truly release it. It’s time.
Did you know I was an only child? I was. And a f*cking bored one. I grew up in a ghetto where I wasn’t allowed to play outside because there were so many drive-by shootings. I had 8 pets, an angry mom, and a schizophrenic father so the house was chaotic, and I locked myself in a room with books. And when I finished my books, I was So. Crazy. Bored.
I think without books I would have lost it.
I looked outside – through the bars that protected my window – and vowed to myself, “When I grow up, I will never, ever be bored.”
Well, I pretty much took care of that. You’re welcome, little me. I told ya I had your back.
I don’t think I’ve been bored for the majority of my time as an adult. On the contrary, I spent 10 years as a climbing guide, 7 years of that living out of my Volvo station wagon, 14 years as a midwife catching babies in all kids of places all over the world, filled two passports and am working on the third, started my own business, and managed to create a mandala of a life with all my passions.
But you know what I rediscovered?
It’s fucking mind-blowing.
See, I hated being bored when I was a kid because I didn’t have any agency over my world – or at least that’s what it felt like. I wasn’t choosing to do nothing.
But in the last decade of my life (stop wondering how old I am. I’m rockin’ 46), I’ve intentionally sought out regular silent retreats where I don’t do anything – not even read – except for meditating, eating, basic self care, and walking. For 10 days.
My body releases when I show up at the retreat center and realize with every cell in my being that, as Ajahn Budhadasana said, for 10 days I have:
“Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No one to be.”
It’s pure bliss.
Sound like torture to you? I used to think it would be too.
But what is boredom anyway?
It’s a thought you have about having nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No one to be.
How can I find it blissful now, and little me (or even 20-something me) found it boring?
We had different thoughts about it.
So maybe I should re-phrase this.
I still don’t want to be bored. But I find it totally blissful to have Nothing to do. Nowhere to go. No one to be.
I think it’s uh-mazing.
Because when you let go of needing to do shit, to go somewhere or to BE anything else than what you already are, you get to…be happy.
What’s wild is after I come out of retreat – even from one of my daylong mini-retreats I do out at our yurt – I’m filled with creativity. New ideas for new programs and awesome adventures to take and sweet things I can do for my friends or with my sexy mountain man. I remember to schedule massages and sign up for workshops I want to take. I write, I sing, I dance.
I think in being “bored,” I create space for newness to flow in. I create space for my desires to come forth.
The Universe abhors a vacuum. You create one with some stillness, and it will fill it.
And what it fills it with can be pretty amazing.
So what’s ironic is that doing nothing helps me live life more fully.
Sure – at first it may be uncomfortable. You may feel anxious and think, “WTF am I doing? Nothing! This is wrong. I’m wasting my life. I’m doing nothing.”
But eventually, you’ll come out the other side. The side where you know with every cell in your body,
“OMG. This. This moment right here. This is everything.”
So try not to resist stillness. Boredom. Whatever you want to call it.
Just be with it and let it pass. Then shoot me an email about what you found. Was it messy? Did you survive (I bet you did;)? What surprised you?
Ready to dive deeper into this? Check out Freedom School and see what everyone’s obsessed about. It’s not just group coaching. It’s a mindset revolution that you won’t want to miss.
I wanted to share this poem, since it’s one of my faves of all time – especially when sh*t gets hard:
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house. Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, Some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they are a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, Still, treat each guest honorably. He may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. —Rumi
So you see, this being human thing is hard.
It’s fucking real.
It’s hard and it’s beautiful and it’s crazy-making sometimes.
But it’s part of the price we pay for being alive on this amazing planet with our miraculous bodies.
There’s nothing wrong when these “new arrivals” come.
You’re just having a human experience.
So what are you going to do about it?
Don’t let it burden you.
Get curious. Invite it in. Don’t ask the sky, “Why me?”
Ask this new arrival, “Why are you here? What have I to learn?”
“Where are we going?”
Ready to dive deeper into this? Check out Freedom School and see what everyone’s obsessed about. It’s not just group coaching. It’s a mindset revolution that you won’t want to miss.
How gozit? Are you hanging in there…or even thriving?
I joke about how with my introverted nature I am basking in all this time that I have to just be still and not have FOMO that I am missing out on great concerts or parties or events. I used to have to make myself stay in and nurture because despite knowing that solitude energized me, I’d often give it up to carpe the dang diem and go hear that band that was playing way past my bedtime, or head out to the cabin party that a bunch of friends were going to be at (even though I craved some me-time).
I’m sure it’ll hit me at some point, but for now, I’m doing swimmingly well!
I love this quote by Hunter S. Thompson:
“When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”
That’s what I’ve been choosing to do. Using this time to dig deep and deliver to my peeps.
One of my clients shared an article in our Freedom School FB group titled, “Why the Pandemic Isn’t Time for Self-improvement.”
But when I read it it said that we should allow the grieving and the pain and reflect on the magnitude of what is happening now…not just try to stay busy taking courses or getting distracted etc.
OK. I get that.
But here’s the thing:
In order to know how to grieve in a healthy way, in order to reflect in a wise way on what is happening, guess what you need to have practiced?
Personal growth skills.
Otherwise we end up spiraling or getting depressed or ruminating about all the awful things happening or that might happen. We worry. We fear. We fret.
Notice there is a difference between grieving and spiraling into thoughts about how awful things are.
One serves you. One cleanses, purifies, lightens, allows, opens.
The other constricts, suffocates, buries, pushes down.
The goal in personal growth is never to NOT feel. On the contrary, in Freedom School we talk about HOW to feel – without letting it become overwhelming or leading to unskillful action.
There are three common ways we deal with emotion: resist, react, or distract.
But there is a fourth way that actually helps us process an emotion in a healthy way – and that is to allow it.
Allowing an uncomfortable emotion is NOT easy – especially at first.
My students practice it a ton. And you can bet it’s one of the most important skills they learn, because when we can allow an emotion – when we actually just feel it without adding a bunch of spiraling thoughts and judgments about it – we have true freedom. We are no longer afraid of feeling.
We need to learn to hold space for any emotion.
The spectrum of emotions that we will experience as a human being are normal and natural and part of what it means to be alive. When we can hold the space for any emotion to appear, to be present inside of us without judgment, then we are more likely be able to feel it and experience it in our body.
Without the thoughts that create a story around it.
Then we are more likely to be free.
And that, my friends, takes some personal growth.
Shit is weird. Go pro. Learn to feel your feelings and learn to not let emotions control you or your experience of life.
If you want extra support, don’t forget the two trainings calls I had in March:
I’ve ridden with rebels in the Congo with machine guns pointed at our heads (on bumpy roads to boot). I’ve worked handling critical traumas in refugee camps. I’ve delivered babies in emergent situations with only minutes to spare before a baby was at risk for brain damage or a mother bled to death.
I’ve been in a village where just over the hills was a disease called Marburg, that spread as easily as Ebola and was just as deadly. I’ve had gear fail on a climb and had to act quickly to keep me and my climbing partner safe. I’ve had a huge Himalayan-sized avalanche head our way and have to direct my clients on how to position themselves to stay safe.
In short: I do pretty well in crises.
But this is not because I am physically strong or confident.
It is because I have the ability to manage my mind.
To see what is really important.
To stop the bullshit that goes through most of our brains when we are panicking and to decide myself what to focus on.
To remind myself that panicking never got anyone anywhere helpful.
To remember that I am Resilient. As. Fuck.
We need more people to be able to do that right now, more than ever.
I need YOU to do that. To show up for yourself and your community in a way that you help them stay focused on what is truly important. What we truly have control over.
As Thich Nhat Hanh, a well-known Buddhist and meditation teacher, said:
“When the crowded refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if every one panicked, all would be lost. But if even one person stayed calm, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.”
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you not only felt better, but could inspire others to take a different perspective as well?
To be the calm in the center of this storm?
I sure as hell think so.
Getting through this without breaking down is totally in your hands.
In 2020 I decided that I wasn’t going to drink alcohol…except for my June retreat in Positano (hey…it’s all about balance;). There were a few reasons for this, and they weren’t because I think alcohol is evil or bad.
1) I’m in a mindfulness meditation teacher training with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach, and they had encouraged us to take the 5 lay precepts for the duration of the training:
:: no lying :: no stealing :: no sexual misconduct :: no killing :: no intoxicants
In general I’m pretty solid on everything but the last one 😝
I opted out of that for the first year. In Buddhism the precepts aren’t “commandments” per se – you can choose which ones you can commit to or not since it’s better to be realistic and stick to something if you can really make a commitment.
But this year I decided to go for it. I’d cut out alcohol in the past when I was pregnant and during my doctoral program, when I knew I had to get high quality sleep and be able to get up at 5am to accomplish everything I needed to do.
2020 is a year where I have some amazing things planned, and once again I find myself asking, “Why do anything that doesn’t serve my highest good?” So I took Jack and Tara up on their invitation.
2) Ever since I turned 40, sleep sucks when I have a drink, even just 1-2. Sleep is key. In my medical practice, I see so many people who are chronically sleep-deprived. It’s at the root of so many psychological and physical problems. This mama doesn’t have time to not get enough sleep.
3) There’s a difference between freedom TO and freedom FROM. We often focus on the freedom TO part: location independence, freedom to buy what we want, being our own boss…basically, freedom to control our time, money and energy.
But there is an equally valid part of freedom and that’s when we free ourselves from things that no longer serve us. Bad habits. Toxic relationships. Basically, those things that no longer serve us.
I decided that I had gotten into a habit with having a drink every night. It wasn’t serving a purpose except that I got used to it and found myself having a drink with dinner even if I actually didn’t want one. I didn’t want to model that kind of mindless consumption for my daughter either.
When I used to smoke, I remember my meditation teacher once telling me that after she quit smoking it felt soooooo good not needing something anymore – to have so much brain space to think about other things than the next cigarette. Once she said that I was like, right!? I quit within a week.
I’m not writing this to tell you to stop drinking, smoking, overeating, over-Netflixing or watching porn.
Nothing is inherently negative or bad in a moral sense.
I’m writing this to simply say it’s time to make sure your habits serve you and help you evolve instead of holding you back.
What are you ready to let go of?
Now’s the time.
Worried you can’t do it? If you want to cut back on something, come join Freedom School this month because we’re learning why we buffer with things that don’t serve us – and why it’s not our fault.
You’ll learn skills you can apply to stop overdrinking, overeating and over-anything.
There’s a free Drink Less Feel Free class in Freedom School too – and Stop Overeating is being released this week!
Let’s make March one of #truefreedom where we don’t just have freedom TO do the things we love, but freedom FROM that which no longer serves us – which is waaaay better, right?
You can do it YOUR way. Without judgment from anyone in the tribe.
It’s a no-brainer. Freedom School has the best tribe of supportive women that help you through it all and it’s a super-sweet deal. Come join us already!
I was on a road trip…starving. Nothing for miles. LOTS of miles. The first thing that popped into my head was, “Please let there be a Taco Bell or Burger King somewhere soon…”
After 20 miles (I know, right?! STARVING!), I finally saw a sign – a literal sign – that said “Burger King 4 miles”
I put my hair in a baseball cap. Donned my glam sunglasses. I was incognito.
I looked left and right.
Is anybody watching me?
Certainly people would know it was me with my signature MIDWYF license plate on the Subaru. What would people think if they saw me eating at Burger King? No one would ever sign up for my Urban Wellness Club or do a cleanse with me. There would be articles about my being a fraud and a hypocrite.
Awww fuck it, I’m way too hungry.
And I know that I am actually not that important…so the likelihood that the paparazzi was spying on me were very, very low.
OK…I admit to some embellishment. I didn’t actually put up my hair and don sunglasses…but I sure felt like it. I mean, I talk with clients and patients for hours about eating real food!
But this is real life.
I pulled up to the ordering-speaker-pole-thing, not bothering to check out the new offerings of french fry burgers or whatever else the industry bothers to develop. I ordered my standard fare for emergent fast-food stops: a double Whopper with cheese, small fries, and a water, no ice.
I then did the classic American thing and after going through the drive-through, I pulled over and parked so I could eat…or in this case, scarf. I pulled off the top part of the bun (I figure that at least helps a little bit, lol) and chomped down. Once done with that, I hit the road fishing for fries in the bag along the way.
It always surprises me how delighted I am to find the extra fry at the bottom of the bag just when I thought I finished them all 😉
Now, while I will pick Burger King over McDonald’s any day, I admit there is a toss-up between BK and Taco Bell, which allows me to avoid the horrific fast-food meat and order something somewhat tasty with just beans and cheese in it (I never order the hot sauce anymore…it’s probably still in my system from my teenage years with all the chemicals in it).
I knew I was not in the land of In-N-Out Burger, which is hands-down my preferred fast food road trip stop. I would have been wishing for one of those if I had been.
In-N-Out is only found in five states: California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and Texas…all states I frequented for rock climbing road trips except for Texas. This is because fresh ingredients are part of it’s “thing.” They use no microwaves, heat lamps, or freezers(!!!). The meat, which are house-ground patties of regionally sourced chuck – are grilled, the lettuce is uber crunchy, the tomatoes are (shock!) juicy and sweet, and the gluteny buns are toasted with a nice crisp on the edges, and pretty epic for a fast-food bun. Plus, they have grilled onions and a secret menu, which makes me feel very cool when my ass is numb from driving for 9 hours.
If you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll take it from Eric Schlosser, author of the infamous book Fast Food Nation, who said this about In-N-Out: “It isn’t health food, but it’s food with integrity…It’s the real deal.”
I would have definitely preferred an In-N-Out cheeseburger, animal style.
But enough of this fast food review. The reason I am telling you this story is this:
I have found that my long road trips have become a secret way for me to eat crap and kind of enjoy it.
What’s up with that?
I know I could pack snacks and prepare for the road trip. To be honest, this is what I do most of the time. But…I admit that when I don’t, or when we’ve eaten it all and need to stop for more food, I am secretly (well, not-so-secretly after this blog post;) excited.
Why do I like fast food?
I think it’s because when I was growing up, fast food was a reward. Once a week my dad would take me to Taco Bell and I’d order a Burrito Supreme and absolutely savor the yumminess of peeling back the foil wrapper and biting into soft tortilla with special sauce and sour cream…we hardly ever ate those ingredients in our Filipino household (BTW the Philippines is the only country where their own fast food restaurant – Jollibees, which has things like spaghetti with vienna sausage – beats out McDonald’s).
Every now and then my mom would drop off Burger King or McDonald’s as a treat for my lunch – I could smell the fries in the hallway where parents would leave bags of food on a designated table for kids to grab at lunchtime. I felt so special! I had holes in my shoes, but dammit, every now and then I’d at least get some fast food for lunch!
Fast food became not about the food, but about the way I’d feel rewarded…for being a good student, a good daughter, a good whatever.
It was about me feeling good about me.
I try to remember this whenever I feel like giving in and not eating my kale chips and hummus dip on the road, and it usually keeps me from pulling over for a quickie at In-N-Out or BK.
It’s also really easy for me to make healthier choices after I’ve done a cleanse, which is why I do them regularly. Fast food actually sounds sickening to me most of the time because of those regular cleanses (and my all-to-detailed knowledge of what it does to our bodies). So I try to do them at least 3 times a year. In fact, one of the reason I started offering them to y’all was because I wanted accountability to do them all the time!
Still, when I’m tired after driving a long distance, or if I was too rushed to prepare my road food, I do give in at times.
I’ve found that is it key to remember it isn’t the occasional pit stop that will make you unhealthy – it’s the choices we make every day that determine our health…and happiness.
It’s also important to remember why the food can have such positive emotional connotations: the food-addictive ingredients, the childhood memories – whatever it is for you.
The worse thing would be to beat yourself up about it and eat it. Studies have shown that people who believe food will have a bad effect on them actually have worse symptoms afterwards than those who don’t – a type of nocebo effect.
I’m sharing this story with you because it is really really hard to make healthy choices every day. I get it.
It’s especially hard when we are feeling bad about ourselves, or feeling tired, lonely, stressed, or unloved.
The last thing that needs to happen when you feel bad already is to start beating yourself up about a poor choice.
Instead, see it for what it is: a poor choice. You are not a bad person. You simply made a bad choice. And sometimes, that choice didn’t even have that many options!
So let’s you and me grab that In-N-Out when we have to, and for the rest of the time, let’s cultivate our primary foods – those things that nourish us without having to eat them: healthy + fulfilling relationships, regular physical activity that’s fun, a fulfilling career, and a spiritual practice.
Prioritizing these things in your life will help your body make that fast food you eat on the rare occasion have only a transient impact, sans guilt.
Please share with me below about your experiences with fast food – was it a reward for you as a kid? If you find it a guilty pleasure, what do you think is at the root of that for you? What are YOUR fave fast food splurges? No shame here…only real life giggles!
*** Ready to dive deeper into this? Check out Freedom School and see what everyone’s obsessed about. It’s not just group coaching. It’s a mindset revolution that you won’t want to miss.
When I was at the World Domination Summit, one of the speakers I found particularly inspiring (and hilarious!) was Dee Williams of Portland Alternative Dwellings and author of The Big Tiny. That’s her over there in the superhero cape (she absconded with a Delta airlines blanket). She gave an absolutely motivating talk on minimalism and choosing SIMPLE. She lives in a 84 square foot swelling – and LOVES it.
Listening to her describe the joy of selling her house and building her 84 sqft dwelling and loving every minute of it reminded me of the absolute contentment I felt when I lived out of my car for 7 years.
Everything I owned was in the back of my Volvo station wagon. My prayer flags were hung along the rear windows, and I’d fall asleep under the stars in a place like Joshua Tree, feeling so at peace knowing that all I needed was with me, and that I could go anywhere I pleased and do anything – climb, hike, raft…without having to pack;) I had no utility bills, no cell phone bill, no marketing deadline I had to meet.
I had a PO Box in Santa Cruz that I checked whenever I rolled into town. I forwarded my mail to strange and remote parts of the country if I knew I’d be there awhile. When I needed a shower, I always found one. People took me into their homes and fed me really good food and offered me to sleep in cotton sheets (cotton is so yummy when you’ve been in a sleeping bag most of the year).
Obviously, that’s a whole lot easier of a lifestyle to live in your 20s when you don’t have kids or own a home. However, I’d be amiss to say that having that feeling was impossible as an adult, with or without a family and/or a home.
I know there are nay-sayers who have the excuse that this isn’t possible once you “grow up” and have responsibilities. Our society accept stress and chaos as the norm. We argue that it’s a part of life in our society that we have to accept – most certainly if you’re a successful entrepreneur. But I’ve made a mistake.
In my own way, I’ve let myself get lost in that belief.
I lost sight of my goal – true SIMPLE freedom.
That FEELING of ease, contentment, relaxation along with freedom.
Despite all I have learned about creating freedom in life, I let myself believe that being a successful entrepreneur means being location independent at all costs, that I “have” to blog once a week, that I must have a constantly updated sales funnel, network at all times, and be interviewed on as many podcasts as I could.
I let myself believe that I wasn’t fully living unless I was learning EVERYTHING that I possibly could. Reading in all my free time – or listening to an audiobook or streaming a lecture. I filled every possible minute with something awesome, productive or geeky. I made myself So. Damn. Busy.
Then there’s the STUFF.
When I worked on my money mindset early on in my business (I grew up VERY poor and had to work on the whole money-is-evil thing) and accepted abundance into my life, I let it manifest as feelings AND things: a condo in Telluride at the base of the ski mountain, a home with killer views and an adorable sauna on the hill above the theaters in Ashland. Clothes made of delicious fabrics, a Subaru that was only a year old and Certified Used (I still can’t bring myself to buy a new car LOL;). Vacations where I’d not think twice about the cost. You get the idea.
It was in my mind that as long as I let these things flow and come into my life with ease, that my life would be full of ease as well. However…
My current experience (and I’m open to it changing) is that I was totally wrong.
The reality is, the more stuff you have and the longer your to-do list, the more you have to deal with – whether it’s with ease or not.
It doesn’t mean more stuff is “bad.” You all know me too well to think that I would judge abundance as bad. I’ve worked too hard on my mindset to let that happen;) It just means that whatever and whomever you allow into your life, you have to care for it.
And that takes energy.
This goes for people, things, thoughts…all of it.
When you have a relationship, you need to check in, create time to connect, compromise, talk about what to do for dinner, and have finance meetings. When you have kids you need to make lunches and drive them to school and events and talk to teachers and go to multiple birthday parties.
It means that when you have a condo in Telluride, even though you may put your mortgage and all bills on autopay, you still have to repair fans that break, replace deck furniture, or have someone shovel snow in the winter when you’re not there…
It means that when you have a house on the hill, you need to schedule your utility bill payments, fix plumbing leaks, keep up the landscaping. You need to flip your mattress and touch up the paint and get the moss off the roof.
When you have nice clothes you need to make sure to wash them on gentle cycle and pull out the ones that need to be hung to dry. You need to have hangers that don’t snag. You can’t trust your husband to do the laundry;)
The tchotchke around the house needs to be dusted and moved around to find things.
When you have a business, you need to keep the energy flowing and give and create and let the world know about it so you can help more people. When you have multiple programs and care for them immensely, you revisit them and improve them. This can all be fun – for me it IS.
Most of the time.
But it is really easy to let it get out of control as an entrepreneur. There are so many things you can keep doing, and the task is never done. I’ve watched so many videos about how to create a proper work day when you work from home/wherever you’re at, and taken workshops on time management, avoiding overwhelm, and how to create systems in your business.
And I implement what I learn. I delegate. I have a Virtual Assistant and people who help me do tasks at home. I…try my best.
Yet the bottom line is, running a business, having an abundance of things (even if they’re awesome!), traveling a ton – it takes effort to keep them going.
While all of these things are not bad (and are actually quite yummy!) they are not SIMPLE.
Some will say, “Let it be easy, Ana! What if you let it be easy and effortless?” I ask my coaching clients that sometimes. “What would happen if you just let this be easy?”
The reality is, it would be easier – but it would still be more stuff in my life that I had to care for – even if it was caring for it with more ease!
Again – more ease, but still NOT SIMPLE.
We are here on this beautiful planet with this one precious life (at least in this incarnation) and no matter how “easy” we can make something, the more you have to deal with, the less time you have to NOT deal with things. The less time you have to JUST BE. To stare at the clouds. To sit quietly with a friend.
Check out this really vulnerable photo I’m sharing of me below. It’s a photo of me breastfeeding, checking email on my iPhone, and looking something up in a book. I’m holding a pen in my mouth (I like to take notes) and while you can’t see it, I’ve got my computer open in front of me on a stand streaming a lecture. And my baby is like…6 weeks old.
None of this was anything I HAD to do. I planned for my maternity leave and pre-wrote emails and posts and had my VA helping me out on social media and with my groups. I LOVE learning and was taking this time to soak up more info, make the most of my time off, and geek out.
Something in me had deep FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and was not ok with simply BEING.
My husband took this photo and showed it to me with a joking smile. I laughed back.
I wasn’t about to waste this precious time in my life with my new baby on catching up with my FOMO needs. I am so grateful my husband took this picture because it was a big ol’ bitch slap in the face about how present I was being in my life.I was doing cool shizzle, going to cool places, experiencing the miracle of birth and life…learning a TON too! Yet while all these are good things, it was too much.
Here’s the deal: you can earn more money – with ease – and have more yummy stuff – with ease – and do tons of amazing things, be location independent…
And for me, that feeling is supported by simplicity as well.
No matter what your life looks like on the outside – whether it is one filled with travels, adventures, financial abundance, location independence, or none of the above, if you don’t FEEL free, you aren’t.
That’s why meditation and cleanses and spiritual practice are such an important part of my life. I constantly need to cultivate that inner freedom. Freedom from my own sh*t.
So I stand before you today, fully aware of my need to bring back simplicity and presence into my life, and am committing to a deep process of simplification for the next year.
Let’s call it Simplify 365, shall we? 😉
I’ll be entering into simplification like I’ve never seen it before. Letting go of things, people, thoughts, and experiences that no longer serve me. I will get rid of many of my nice things – not because they are bad, but because I don’t want to have to take care of them anymore. And I will definitely chuck my not-so-nice things.
I will practice saying, “No” to all that doesn’t create flow and joy in my life. I will reign in my finances so that I understand them and they are easy to assess instead of not paying attention to things simply because it’s never been a big problem (the not knowing creates mental chaos that I need to undo!). I’ll lay out my crap in front of you so you can know that it IS possible to have true simple freedom too. For me, that’s the point of writing about it, after all.
I’ll be blogging about my journey regularly, sharing what Simplification goal I’ll set for that day or week or month, and let you know how I’m doing – my challenges, my successes, my embarrassing truths.
I’ll be using lots of tools as I learn more about how to simplify life: blogs and tips from masters of this art that have been practicing this consistently for years, books, interviews with Simplification masters…and YOU all, who I am sure have lots to offer me on this journey as well.
Brené Brown inspired me to do this even more authentically when she said, “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.” I’m bankin’ on it!
So feel free to join me on this latest adventure. Maybe it will inspire you to even join me with each challenge I set before myself – or create your own!
My first step? Getting rid of some of my nice things that take up too much energy:
I’m selling my condo in Telluride. At the base of the ski lift. Right on the river. On the top floor. In a crappy real estate market. Ouch. Stay-tuned to see how that goes…
Share your tips or challenges with simplification below – I can tell I’m going to appreciate any help and camaraderie I can get!